As the USS Titan ventures beyond the reaches of known
space, the telepaths in her crew - including Diplomatic Officer
Deanna Troi - are overwhelmed by an alien cry of distress,
which leads the ship to a scene of shocking carnage. A civilisation
of interstellar "whalers" is preying upon a familiar species
of sentient space-borne creatures, the "star-jellies" originally
encountered at Farpoint Station some 16 years ago...
multi-species crew complement of the starship Titan
makes this series the perfect playground for author Christopher
L Bennett, whose previous Trek novel, Ex
Machina, featured a similarly diverse crew
assembled by Captain Willard Decker. Here we examine, among
others, the cultural outlook of the cyborg Torvig, and the
fearful and hostile reactions he receives from races whose
main experiences with cybernetic beings have been attacks
by the Borg; the giant, segmented K'chak'!'op ("Chaka"), who
develops a reluctance to leave her quarters owing to the cramped
conditions of the rest of the ship; and Melora Pazlar (depicted
on the cover between Troi and the reptilian Dr Ree), who similarly
craves her comfort zones due to the uncomfortably high gravity
throughout most of the vessel.
is also a weird and wonderful array of aliens outside the
ship, as Titan explores a region of space that is home
to an unusually large number of space-dwelling beings, including
star-jellies (from the Next
Generation pilot episode Encounter at Farpoint)
and crystalline entities (from Datalore and Silicon
As expected, the author diligently ties up a few of the Trek
franchise's loose ends along the way, such as how Lore was
able to communicate with the Crystalline Entity in Datalore
when in Silicon Avatar this was only possible using
a graviton beam. He also explains how Spock's comment in Star
Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, that "Only
Nixon can go to China," could be a "human translation" of
a Vulcan proverb, and remarks upon the parallels that exist
between the characters of Willard Decker and William T Riker:
the similarity of their names, roles and love lives. I, for
one, have always been disappointed by the abrupt ending of
the Voyager episode Tuvix.
Did Neelix and Tuvok retain any memories of their joined existence?
How did they feel about it? Thankfully, Bennett finally sheds
some light on this subject.
the rhyming titles of the last two Titan novels, Taking
Wing and The
Red King, I suppose this book could have been
called Jellyfish Things or Jelly Hunting! As
it is, the title Orion's Hounds might lead you to expect
green-skinned Orion traders to appear, but they don't - Orion
refers to a very broad region of space, including the area
of active star formation that is explored here.
subject matter should strike a chord with British readers
on both sides of the fox-hunting debate, since the author
presents arguments from both the anti- and the pro- points
of view. However, the situation has more in common with whale
hunting (thanks to the giant and sentient nature of the star-jellies)
and the hunting methods practised by Native Americans (their
ritualised reverence for their prey). While attempting to
negotiate an end to the hunting of intelligent creatures,
Riker and his crew realise there is more to the situation
than meets the eye.
In terms of pacing, Orion's Hounds is an improvement
on the previous two Titan novels, by Michael A. Martin
and Andy Mangels. Whereas Taking Wing and The Red
King were both slow to get moving, Bennett's book wisely
intersperses the early character moments with space-bound
action involving the apparently cruel hunters, the Pa'haquel.
However, the subject matter and the author's handling of it
is more mawkish than the terrorism and religious fundamentalism
that was depicted so vividly in Ex Machina.
this is a jelly - er, I mean, jolly - good read.
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